Contest-Winning Poems

By Raehana Anwar

On March 29, the winners for the 2018 Sybil Nash Abrams Student Contest were revealed by the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas. Out of the six winners, four are from Mount’s very own Creative Writing class. The four students submitted handwritten poems from class and ranked from 2nd place to 2nd honorable mention.

The Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas (PRA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study of poetry. The PRA was created to encourage poets and promote an appreciation of poetry in the community, and secure more recognition for the works of poets in Arkansas. This organization offers monthly contests, one of which all the students in Mount’s Creative Writing class submitted poems for, along with students from six other schools. This added up to a total of 23  high school student entries, with only six prizes given.

The winners from Mount include Raehana Anwar in 2nd place, Stephanie Verdaris in 3rd, Hannah Brockette with 1st honorable mention, and Grace Cassie with 2nd honorable mention. 2nd place receives a $30 cash prize, 3rd receives $20, and honorable mentions are awarded books. Along with collecting their prize, each winner is invited to attend the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas Dr. Lily Peter Spring Celebration and is given the opportunity to present their winning poem.  The winning pieces are listed below in order of their award.


Raehana Anwar

i am six,

with a head of hair,

free of curls,

falling to my hips.

teacher tells me i hold my pencil wrong,

but i write neater than any other first grader i know.

one day mom was crying,

and i knew my baby brother would be here soon.

i wore my best dress: blue flowers painted onto pale white.

i had to make the best of impressions for the new face.

i don’t understand the red, yellow, green lights on the streets,

how they change from color to color.

i think there are small people inside of them,

pushing buttons for hours and hours.

i would hate to have that job.

i hear a soft sound echo from the radio.

mom tells me the soft sound is called a flute.

i want to make the sound.

dad always counts his money.

he takes us to diners and days on the beach,

but it makes him sad.

his business is dying.

but he doesn’t think i know that yet,

because i’m only six.

Texas and Arkansas

Stephanie Verdaris


It wasn’t always “Texas and Arkansas”
Used to be just one state,
But then you had to leave.
Intense games of tag, lots of fun, and many playdates,
But then you went to Texas and we had to set each other free.
And then as we got older, our paths crossed once again
And we immediately remembered why we’d been such good friends.
Your positive outlook, hilarious sense of humor, and loving heart
Made me realize I should’ve kept better contact with you from the start.
But now you’re still in Texas and I am still in Arkansas
But we’re back to being inseparable.
Annual visits, facetimes, sweet texts,
And lots and lots of “I can’t wait till I see you next.”
You have shown me what a true best friend is like
And that no matter what, you’ll always be a part of my life.
Maybe you’ll always be in Texas. And maybe I’ll always be in Arkansas.
But no matter where we go, you will always be in my heart.

Lake Days

Hannah Brockette

Hot summer days
Spent at the lake.
Floating on a raft,
Tubing in circles.
Water splashes in my face.
Fast strokes against my arms,
As I race my friends.
The boat bounces up and down
As it hits wave after wave.
It pulls up on shore
Scraping the gravel.
Now I’m back at camp
Sitting around the campfire.
Listening to stories and gossip
All night long.
I get in my bed.
I lay still as a stick.
But my body still moves like a fish

Love Letter

Grace Cassie

It’s hilarious how someone can go from being your best friend
To a stranger
In a matter of seconds.

I remember lying next to you under shimmery, yellow lights,
Hoping that this moment could last an eternity,
As you wrapped me up in your warm arms,
Protecting me from the cold world around us.

I remember late nights eating dinner with your family
And losing at every card game placed in front of me.

I remember the moments when calling you could stop
The flood of tears from overcoming my life
And you calling me to listen to every moment of my day.

But, people change.

You went from a carefree boy to a politician,
Always concerned about what others thought
And, in return, trying to win over every single person you met.

You went from my undying protector
To my inevitable downfall.
But most of all,
you went from my best friend
To someone I don’t even know,
And, because of that,

I will sadly always remember you.


From Holocaust to Hope

By Emily VanEcko

On Wednesday January 31st students in the AP Human Geography class went on a field trip to the Clinton Library to hear the holocaust survivor, Dr. Irene Butter, speak of her life.

Irene Butter is the daughter of John and Gertrude Hasenberg of Berlin, Germany. Her father was a banker, as was her grandfather. The family practiced Reformed Judaism, but had assimilated into German culture and considered themselves primarily German. Irene had a very happy early childhood throughout her schooling in Berlin and she was very close to her father.

However, Irene and her family were greatly impacted by the German invasion of Holland in May 1940. Ms. Butter was expelled from school and entered a Jewish school for children with all Jewish teachers. Discrimination of Jews had just started to spread across Europe, and they were barred from public places, not allowed on public transportation, restricted to certain hours for store purchases, forced to walk everywhere, and had to wear the yellow Star of David on their clothing. Anticipating what was to follow, Mrs. Butter’s father initiated efforts to obtain a foreign passport or visa from contacts in Sweden.

In a roundup of Jews in June 1943, Mrs. Butter and her family were given ten minutes to pack before they were transported on trucks to a train station before being forced into cattle cars to travel to the transit camp, Westerbork. There they lived in barracks witnessing the weekly departures to Auschwitz. Dr. Butter talked about the horrific conditions she had to endure like malnourishment, disease, and horrible hygiene conditions. While at Westerbork, the documents Mrs. Butter’s father had solicited arrived in the form of Ecuadorian passports or visas; Mrs. Butter isn’t certain which. These documents prevented their deportation to Auschwitz and instead they were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in February 1944. On their way to the new camp they had hope that it would be better and less harsh than their previous one.

At Bergen-Belsen the family stayed together while being housed in special barracks for those with foreign papers. The intent was to exchange individuals held in those barracks for German nationals being held by other countries. Conditions at Bergen-Belsen were unexpectedly worse than the previous camp. Sleeping facilities were wooden bunk beds, three tiers high – two people per bunk. Food was scarce and sanitary conditions were extremely poor. Mrs. Butter’s father was required to do hard manual labor. A brief contact was made with Anne Frank who was in an adjacent section of the camp when she handed off clothes to the girl who only had a blanket to clothe her body.

There was a count to see all the people who were healthy enough to trade for prisoners of war. She and her brother went and got verified for transport during the day. Later that night when her father returned from his daily labor and he was too tired to walk, the children insisted that he get checked by the doctor. So Dr. Butter got dressed and half-carried her father to the doctor’s office where the doctor mistook Irene for her father’s wife. He gave all four the passes they needed for the family to stay together. To this day she does not know if the doctor was trying to help her family stay together, or if he truly did mistake her for her mother.

In January 1945, Mrs. Butter and her family were selected for the exchange of foreign nationals. They took a four-day train ride to Switzerland in which the health of her parents diminished due to the harsh conditions. Mrs. Butter’s father also died and his body was left on a bench at the railroad station of Biberach, Germany. She believes her father died from malnutrition and the effects of internal injuries resulting from beatings received while at Bergen-Belsen. Her mother was still unconscious when he passed.  Upon arrival in Switzerland, the exchange took place and, thereafter, her mother and brother were taken to a hospital. Dr. Butter, who was only 14-years-old at this time, was sent to a DP (Displaced Persons) camp in Algiers, North Africa. There she was able to thrive and regain her emotional and physical strength. This was her first separation from her family and it was incredibly challenging for her.


Through the assistance of relatives in the United States, Mrs. Butter was able to come to America in December 1945. Her mother and brother followed about a year later. She resumed her schooling and with a scholarship was able to go to a university and then pursue a Ph.D. in economics; she graduated as the only woman in her class.

Today she is living with the memories of her scarring childhood but is also finding ways to create peace. She goes around the country speaking to young children, and has created a organization that works hard to promote peace. She is the co-founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Medal & Lecture series at the University of Michigan, and one of the founders of Zeitouna, an Arab/Jewish Women’s Dialogue group in Ann Arbor.

Her biggest message to future generations is that it is your choice to be an enemy or to not be. Her goal is that children in the upcoming generation will never repeat history but instead learn from the violence of the past.

In Little Rock, at the Clinton Center there is a sapling from the only tree Anne Frank could see from her window. The memorial is there to remind us to choose peace and not repeat history.


Gold Star Family Memorial

By Allison Toomer

A Gold Star Family is one that has lost a loved one in military service, leaving behind a family without a father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter. There are so many families throughout our country who have lost loved ones in the line of duty, several even in our own school.  

In order to honor these families, the members of the Marine Corps League, the Co-Chairs and the Committee Members decided to hold a competition between Arkansas JROTC programs in order to raise money for the Gold Star Family Memorial. The school JROTC program that raises the most money will be given a small replica of the monument that will be built on Arkansas’ state Capitol grounds by Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Medal of Honor recipient. The Gold Star Family Memorial being built in Little Rock is one of many monuments that pay tribute to the Gold Star Family members and families of the soldiers who have sacrificed their life for our freedom.

The Catholic High School JROTC program has gotten involved in this fundraising competition for the monument against  other JROTC programs in Arkansas. They have used class competitions, pork sales, Golden Corral Donation set-ups, car washes, raffles, media coverage, bracelet sales and various donations sites to raise funding for the memorial. Catholic’s JROTC program’s current grand total is $15,539.37 – an average of $95.92 per cadet. This current grand total consists of $9,967.04 in donations, the class totals,  $5,572.33 worth of pork sold, and raffle tickets. In total all the Junior cadets have raised $1,926.00, the Senior cadets have raised $1,172.50, the Freshman cadets have raised $607.21, and the Sophomore cadets have raised $364.00. Mount’s cadets have also gotten involved in this program raising $720.74

The Gold Star Family Memorial Dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on  Veterans Day 2018.


“Although many of the monuments are being built across the United States, this monument will become the first of its kind to be erected on the grounds of a State Capital,” says Sergeant Major R.S. Jernigan. If you would like to help the Catholic High School JROTC program meet their goal of $25,000, please donate today.

All checks are made out to The Gold Star Family Memorial.

Politicians of the Future

by Gracie Alvarez

This year, Mount St. Mary Academy represented the nations of China, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Ecuador at the 52nd annual Model United Nations Conference at UCA.

model un

Model UN is a conference of high school students who represent different nations and collaborate to solve world-wide issues. At this conference, we debated the current issues plaguing the world and worked to find possible solutions for them. Some of these issues included how to combat terrorist/extremist groups, finding new sources of renewable energy, improving healthcare, and expanding access to global financial institutions.

Model UN is an incredible opportunity for all of the participants. It brings real-world issues to the attention of bright, motivated high school students who might otherwise be unaware. The issues discussed at Model UN are the issues that our class of high school students will be dealing with and trying to find resolutions for as adults. By starting to think about and striving for peace in our world now, as teenagers, we can prepare ourselves for the world ahead of us.

We are the politicians, congresswomen, activists, and leaders of the future, and Model UN is the perfect opportunity to start to experience this.

Mount St. Mary’s Model UN group did really well at this year’s conference. The delegation of Afghanistan was awarded an honorable mention for the outstanding delegation. Katie Strickland and Katie Bailey both won honorable mentions for outstanding delegates in the Special Political Committee. All of our students that participated did an incredible job and represented the strong, intelligent, and opinionated young women of Mount.

Sister Act

By Josie Fitz

Sister- a word with many different connotations. When you hear the word ‘sister’ you might think of a sibling, a good friend, or your classmates. This weekend, however, sister will had a completely different meaning in Sister Act, Mount St. Mary’s fall musical. Sister Act follows the story of Deloris Van Cartier, played by senior Leah Paige, who must hide in a convent after witnessing a crime. There she forms a strong bond with the nuns and discovers who she’s truly meant to be.

So what makes this play so special? According to Ms. Jenny Moses, the show’s director, ”It’s one that the audience will connect with and enjoy, but it also will make them feel something, and that is my philosophy of theatre- that I want the audience to walk away having felt something.” Audiences are sure to connect with Sister Act because of the genuine connections between many of the characters in the show.

The connections between the cast happened offstage as well. Senior, Hailey Grillo says, “I definitely feel like I have bonded with my cast mates in Sister Act. Many I have just met this year and many this is my fourth year of working with. When practices are long and exhausting I know there’s always a supportive shoulder to lean on. This cast, as it has in past years, has become my family. We’ve laughed, cried, stressed, and bonded together over the past few months. With this being my last show I couldn’t be happier with the friends I’ve made behind the curtains. The musicals are always such a fun way to make friends that share the love of the theater with you. They’re all my sisters and brothers now, and I’m already so excited to see how the underclassmen continue to develop their craft in the next years.” This is a great story about  finding yourself, redemption, and love.

National Merit Semi-Finalist: Katie Strickland

By Gracie Alvarez

Katie Strickland, Class of 2018, was recently named a National Merit Semi-Finalist due to her performance on the PSAT last fall. She is one of only 136 semi-finalists in the entire state of Arkansas. She shared her feelings about the achievement with us, and the surprise she had upon finding out she had qualified: 

“When I first heard that I was a National Merit Semi-Finalist, my heart did a mini flip. I couldn’t stop thinking about how thankful I was for this opportunity!”

The classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021 took the PSAT this past Wednesday, October 11th. The juniors that tested will find out next fall if they qualified to be a National Merit semi-finalist, while the freshmen and sophomores will have another chance to take the test.

When asked “What was the first thing that went through your mind when you heard the news?”, Katie told us that “Sister Joan actually told me in a meeting the day before they announced it to the school…we had been discussing the status of my college applications whenever she revealed to me that I was selected as a Semi-Finalist. When Sister Joan made the intercom announcement, I was sitting in my AP Research class praying that I had charged my computer the night before!”  

The qualification as a semi-finalist is a huge achievement; however, Katie still has to go through a rigorous process before she receives scholarships for the title. She must fill out an application, complete an essay, get a recommendation from Mount, and show evidence of taking the SAT recently. She is motivated to move forward, and told us that she

“[has] only excitement (and slight nervousness) for the adventures and challenges ahead! I will be ever-grateful for the opportunities which being a National Merit Semi-Finalist may open up, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for the Class of 2018.”

Mercy Day

By Kelly Hammond

Mercy Day is a beloved tradition in the Mount community that takes place every September.  While most girls are just get excited to be out of class for the day, the meaning behind Mercy Day goes much deeper.  In honor of Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, Mount students spend this day providing service on campus and throughout the community.  Students trade in their hounds tooth skirts for a pair of jeans and gloves, and travel to various sites including Susan G. Koman, Calvary Cemetery, Helping Hand, the Compassion Center, Access Schools, Allsopp Park, and more.  This allows everyone to have the humbling opportunity to serve those in need and live like Catherine herself.  

When I was told that I would be going to a cemetery for Mercy Day, I was honestly pretty scared.  When most people hear “cemetery”, they automatically think of spooky ghosts, dark lifeless trees, and haunted graves.  However, what I found on my journey was quite the opposite.  The sun washed over the green, tree-filled area and illuminated the headstones of various shapes and sizes.  When we first arrived, we made our way through the front of the cemetery, past graves and presents left by loved ones, towards Bella Brown.  We took a moment of silence to remember her joyful and compassionate personality; a perfect reminder for us on a day focused on serving others.


We then headed to the area of the cemetery where several Sisters of Mercy were buried.  It was sorrowing to see the rows and rows of disheveled and unclean headstones.  Most of these graves-some of which were almost 200 years old- looked as if they hadn’t been cleaned since they were put there.  

To give these headstones the proper TLC they deserve, we used sponges, brushes, and rags to gently remove the dirt and moss growing on the stones.  This experience gave me a new perspective on the word “cemetery”; one that doesn’t include scary ghosts, but instead a reminder of how we can still care for those who have passed on.  Even when we lose a loved one, honoring their memory by caring for their grave is just one way to continue serving them.  

Other members of our newspaper staff, Breanna Racher and Raehana Anwar, told me what they learned from their Mercy Day experiences.  Breanna said,

 “it seemed like what we were doing was very insignificant…until two women that were there told us what we did in an hour and a half would have taken a week for them to do.”  

Raehana recalls a similar feeling and says, “At first I thought cleaning up bikes couldn’t really do much to help the community, but after hearing about how excited the kids would get and how meaningful it was to them, what I was doing seemed to have more purpose. I felt like I really was impacting people’s lives, just by fixing up some bikes.”  Both girls’ time at their service sites proved the big impact we can make when we come together to help others.  

—Timelapse of Raehana and friends building a bike at their service site—

By Raehana Anwar